On last night’s episode of Project Runway, Elisa Jimenez became the latest fashion casualty and was sent home. The designers used Hershey’s candy for inspiration and to use in constructing their outfits. Elisa went for a Hansel and Gretl theme, in honor of her daughter, but the judges didn’t seem to get it. Last night was the first time that we actually got to know Elisa a little bit and she had quite a shocking story. A terrible car accident in London left the designer in a five-day coma but she made a miraculous recovery and appreciates life on new levels. This quirky designer was certainly an individual and makes things interesting this season on Project Runway. We were sad to see her go but she called BuddyTV today to give us some more insight into the show … and that creative mind of hers!
Below, you will find the complete mp3 and transcript of the interview.
Hey everyone. This is Gina from BuddyTV, and today I’m talking to Elisa, the latest designer eliminated on Project Runway. Well, I’m wondering how long you’ve been a designer, and when the interest first started for you?
Approximately seven to ten years. I do marionettes, and they range from three inches to 30 feet high. So I started making clothes for the marionettes, and I started making clothes for the performances to perform with the marionettes as one of them, as part of their world. It has been approximately ten years now. And I just sort of got pulled into it, so it is another element of all my other artwork. You know, in addition to drawing and painting and writing and performing and marionette-sculpting and stuff like that, there’s also fashion.
Were you always a very creative person growing up too?
Oh, absolutely. I’m the daughter of…both my parents are artists. I’m a third-generation artist. I think I tried to rebel a little bit, Gina, and I got a minor in classics and a minor in anthropology and writing, and that was the only way I was able to rebel out of this art box. But other than that, no, I pretty much was always raised as a creative…make things, you know, you make things. Like, I’m a maker, I make things.
Now, had you watched previous seasons of Project Runway, and was it a show that you wanted to be on?
Well, actually, what happened was, is four years ago—no, I’m sorry, not four years ago—three years ago, the very first season Gen Art in New York City had introduced me as one of their designers to watch and I got contacted by them, that there was this new show called Project Runway. So, I went and auditioned for it, and I got it. So, I was one of the original 14, but I went to London—I turned it down because my daughter was only eight years old. And I went to London instead to do a project with Urban Outfitters on their shop in Oxford Street. And then, I was supposed to do a project with the New York Gates Project with Christo’s Gates in Central Park—it’s like, a really big deal—but instead, I got hit by a car, and I got killed, and I was in a coma for five days. So, you know, that season was a little bit shot. You know, everything got canceled on that season.
So, because of that, as soon as I got healthy enough, my daughter wanted me to try out for Project Runway again because she wanted to see what the other destiny was. She wanted to see what the contrast was. She’s 11 now. So, every year this Project Runway competition came up, she was like, “Can you go try now?” and I’d be like, “No, I’m not quite all healed up yet.” And then, when I felt like I was strong enough, I did.
That story that you told last night was so surprising. I mean, you never would know that had happened to you. What was the recovery process like? How long was it before you really were 100 percent again?
I came back from London two months after the accident. I’d had my head cracked open four inches, my neck was broken and I had tendon damage all down the right side of my body. But there’s nothing like people talking about who’s going to raise your daughter over your hospital bed, Gina, to inspire you. You’d be like, “Uh, no, that would be me. I will be the one raising my daughter.” So, I did yoga and Reiki and I make the joke that I was loved back to life because all my friends and all my community and clients and everybody just came and poured energy into me. It was slow, steady, healing growth until probably about a year, year and a half. And then the last year and a half was sort of like fine-tuning and stamina. But I did want people to know that you could have an experience like that and through just sheer yoga and other alternative forms of medicine and will and, you know, whatever you want to believe in, you could come back and look like me. You know, you could be healthy, you could have your life back. You could have love, you could raise your children, you could have a career. That was an important thing that I want people to know.
It’s definitely such an inspirational story, and I’m really glad that you got to tell that because I know a lot of the viewers and the BuddyTV readers were wanting to get more details on what had happened and how you ended up recovering, so I’m really glad that you told that side of the story.
Oh, thank you.
Now, when you were on the show, how did you think that you fared in the competition? Do you feel like the judges really understood what you were going after a lot of the times?
Well, in all fairness, having been raised by artists and going through undergraduate art school and graduate art school, I grew up in a critique environment. Like, there’s nothing like growing up with artist parents who were like, you know, you show them your drawing and they were like, “That’s great, but you need to work on blah blah blah blah blah blah.” So, I would look at being on the runway as critique situation. So they were basically just giving me their input. They’re mortal just like I am. Because of my belief system, we’re all the same. No one is above you, no one is below you. It’s all equal. So, in that respect, I just took their criticisms, and took what I thought would work for me in my future, being the creative person, and disregarded what I didn’t think was workable.
And, what’s in the future for you now, Elisa?
Well, I just did two major gallery shows with my partner husband, Moses. He does amazing one-of-a-kind bags and they’re all out of recycled materials. And I did a full-on fashion show and then a performance, and then everyone got to buy everything that they saw that night. And then, I’m now working on my collection for New York Fashion Week. I work every day, all the time.
Well, it sounds really exciting. I hope that we get to hear more great things from you, and I just wanted to thank you so much for your time.
Thank you, Gina. I really appreciate it. And again, I want to thank you for the opportunity of being able to express myself and give my opinion. I really appreciate it. It’s an honor.
Well, thanks. Have a great day, Elisa.
You too. Bye!
– Gina Scarpa, BuddyTV Staff Writer
(Image courtesy of Bravo)